How Dirty Pictures Changed My Life by Lisa Palac
In the early '90s, after a stint as a senior editor at the groundbreaking lesbian sex journal On Our Backs, Lisa Palac took charge of a new magazine called Future Sex. Tapping into the "cyber" ethos that permeated the Bay Area scene--Mondo 2000 was in its ascendancy, while Wired was still a full year away--the magazine achieved a quick burst of mainstream notoriety and became a longterm underground icon. But you won't need to don a full-body cybersex interface to appreciate Palac's The Edge of the Bed. With disarming honesty and self-deprecating humor, Palac writes about how she began to gain control of her sexuality. When she found a boyfriend's stash of pornography, her kneejerk reaction was to tell him that if it didn't go, she would. He managed to convince her to watch a video with her; that led to another, and another...soon, Palac was renting her own tapes and started writing her own erotic stories.
Although sex-positive feminism can be a powerfully liberating philosophy, Palac does not sugarcoat the hardships. Not every sexual encounter was wonderful; sometimes there wasn't even any sex. ("I was a perfect candidate for cybersex," she drolly comments at one point. "I wasn't getting laid, I liked to masturbate, and I could type.") But the story of Palac's spiritual and physical awakening and her efforts to maintain honesty and integrity will continue to inspire long after they've finished titillating--and that's a mighty long time.